Insomnia! Which turns out to be a really good way to get writing done when you work full time.
Besides that, I'm lucky enough to have a job I enjoy which gives me a large degree of freedom. As a lecturer at CU, Boulder, I have no publishing or administration requirements, so I can focus on teaching. Although cobbling together a full teaching load can be a challenge, as the only lecturer that focuses on security issues, I stay very active. This also gives me plenty of time for family and writing. My normal schedule has me crossing campus on a regular basis, so I can work out details of stories while I work. It doesn't hurt that CU is ranked as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country with the backdrop of the Flatirons.
What do you read for pleasure?
I have been a huge science fiction fan since I was a kid. I still have the book club copy of FOUNDATION TRILOGY that I got in Junior High School. In college and graduate school, I started to read alternate history as an extension of teaching about the use of counterfactual methodology, consequently, I have become hooked on the work of Harry Turtledove. I will also read just about anything by Neil Gaiman or Ha Jin.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well, I teach full time, so a there is preparation for a full course load and grading. Family and Church take up a good amount of time. Besides that my wife and I have been renovating our house. Beyond that it would be reading, sometimes for work, often for pleasure. My father in law jokes that I have a Kindle or book surgically attached to my hand.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Very tough question, because often it is the last one I read. But here is what I came up with. STARSHIP TROOPER which I reread every few years. Each time I see different themes. The first time was an adventure tail. More recently I have used it in a course on Politics and Literature because of its treatment of civic responsibility and citizenship. BRAVE NEW WORLD which I first read in high school as just science fiction. I now use it to teach about liberal fascism and how it is easier to rule by creating dependency. Every time I teach this book, I end the class with this question - What's wrong with this society, everything is provided and there is no reason to be unhappy? FOUNDATION TRILOGY (which I am going to count as one volume). Again, I first read it as just sci fi, but now I relate to the work of Hari Seldon since as a political scientist I often use formal models to describe and predict politics (I almost included him in the acknowledgements for my dissertation on the micro-foundations of prospect theory). A THOUSAND SUNS. Depressing as hell, but one of the best portrayals of life in Afghanistan from a woman's perspective. It was recommended to me by a Pashto student and I now recommend to students in my MidEast politics class. FREE LIFE by Ha Jin. First, Ha Jin is one of my favorite authors. Second, this is a great portrayal of life for modern, non Hispanic, immigrants.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, so many. OK, the classics - Heinlein, Bradbury and Asimov - in that order. Current authors, Gaiman, Ha Jin and Harry Turtledove. Historians - Niall Fergusson.
Describe your desk
Piles, but organized piles.
It is a large flat desk with a hutch made out of plywood that I have had for decades. The right side of the desk has my laptop, while the left side is for handwriting and grading. That side has the numerous fountain pens, which I prefer, my journal (when I am home) and a bag of colored pencils I use for mindmapping. The hutch part consists of various piles. First the text books I am using this semester. Then there is a pile of books to read. There is also a pile of my favorite bible, prayer cards and meditations and one of my rosaries. There is also a small basket for all the cables and power cords for my devices. The top of the hutch is lined with various beer mugs from military units and a ceramic maltese falcon (a present based on my love of the Bogart movie).
What's the story behind your latest book?
The first book on the Michaels (SHELTER FOR SOULS) explores issues of Christian love (agape) and healing. I am currently working on two follow-up books. One (almost done, but still untitled) deals with families and the other with death. I am also working on a novella about secret agents dealing with the occult in England of the 1800s.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love a good story and writing lets me tell them (at least I think they're good).
What is your writing process?
I would like to say I have one, but it is very haphazard. Ideas come to me and I work them out while commuting or walking cross campus. As soon as I get a chance I write them down (I've been known to stop mid walk to write them down) and slowly work them into a story.
What are you working on next?
Once I finish the Michaels series, I will probably work on either the LEAGUE (King's agents fighting supernatural) or ANGEL (stories of a private military corporation).
What is your e-reading device of choice?
A basic Kindle. It is small (fits in my coat) and no distractions.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Realizing that I had written a book, I wanted to get it out.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.